resourcesABOUT MT AUTHOR GUIDELINES CLASSIFIEDS EDITORIAL CALENDAR MEDIA GUIDE MASSAGE MART SCHOOLS & EDUCATION FEEDBACK
Applying the Thin Skull Principle
The "thin skull" principle, also known as the "you take your victim as you find them" principle, is a legal principle that can be summed up by the following statement.
The Challenges of Integrating Eastern and Western Medicine
My Masters thesis was titled, "The Challenges of Integrating Eastern and Western Medicine," which highlighted several reasons why it is hard for these two worlds to mix.
5 Tips for Using Pinterest to Market Your Practice
Pinterest is a very popular, but often under-utilized, social media platform where people can bookmark, or "pin," fun and interesting things from all across the internet.
Marijuana, Apathy and Chinese Medicine, Part 1
This article was written in response to the unheeded acceptance of marijuana as a harmless substance that potentially does good when used for the medical relief of pain.
Turning a Blind Eye to History – and Reality
The American Medical Association is taking the Supreme Court's Feb. 25, 2015 decision exactly as it always does – by turning a blind eye to history, legal precedent and reality.
Functional Hip Impingement (Part 1)
Every time I sit down to write an article, I realize how much more there is to know about musculoskeletal pain. I also learn something new every time. (I want to give special thanks to Lucy Whyte Ferguson for assisting with this article.)
Animal Acupuncture: A Case Study in the Treatment of Traumatic Injury in the Equine
The rise of animal acupuncture in the U.S. began in the early 1970's as a result of the work by members of the National Acupuncture Association in Westwood, Calif.
The Acupuncturist's Problem
I want share with you some observations and insights into what seems to be the most common problem my colleagues in the acupuncture profession struggles with. If you also struggle with this problem, I hope you get a valuable "aha" moment from reading this.
How Much Do You Know About the Benefits of Birds Nest?
Edible bird's nest is the nest made by the Swiftlet bird of Southeast Asia that is usually prepared as a soup and prized in Chinese culture as a healthful delicacy.
Term Limits: What's in a Word?
It was the French historian and philosopher Voltaire who once declared the Holy Roman Empire was neither holy nor Roman nor an empire.
5 Simple Steps to Create an Effective Marketing Calendar
In the educational experience of most healthcare practitioners, business and marketing are overlooked topics.
The Tide is Rising in the Acupuncture Profession
Former President Ronald Regan said, "When the tide rises all boats float." The tide is rising for the acupuncture profession. Many forces outside the profession are helping the tides to rise.
Low Back Pain in Professional Golf: A Common Muscular Relationship
Every sport creates its own unique demands on the body. Some sports require such a myriad of body positions that assessing pathology is often difficult and unpredictable.
Medicine is Clumsy, Don't You Be
All medical systems have clumsiness in them. If the technique isn't, the practitioner is. Everyone in every form of medicine is striving to improve. That is why we call it practice.
Talking to Patients About Lumbar Facet Denervation (Medial Branch Neurotomy)
Lumbar facet denervation, more appropriately termed medial branch neurotomy (MBN), is a procedure that may be considered when patients suffer from recalcitrant non-radicular axial back and/or leg pain.
Sleep, Less Sleep or No Sleep?
I had a dream I wasn't getting enough sleep. It was a very realistic dream, even though I was probably slightly awake and not really deep dreaming. Most likely I had been dozing, caught in that twilight of sleep and wakefulness.
A View From the ER
The University of Western States has inked an innovative agreement with local nonprofit health system Legacy Health whereby UWS sports-medicine fellows can experience observational clinical rotations in emergency-room settings within the Legacy system.
PCOM Granted Regional Accreditation
Pacific College of Oriental Medicine (PCOM) recently announce it has received regional accreditation from the Western Association of Schools and Colleges (WASC). This achievement reflects five years of hard work on the part of faculty, staff, and students.
Integrating Art with Clinical Practice for Patients with PTSD: The Artemis Project
Are you restricted by those one-on-one clinic dynamics? Why not join colleagues and clients in experimental group settings? Three of us volunteered to do just that in Austin on behalf of women veteranss from all branches of the service.
Optimism = Compassion = Trust
A randomized clinical trial recently published online in JAMA Oncology examined how patients viewed their doctor based upon how the practitioner presented bad news to the patient.
September, 2001, Vol. 01, Issue 09
It's "Back to School" Time!
By Cliff Korn, BS, LMT, NCTMB
Becoming a massage therapist requires a great deal of preparation, perhaps the most visible and tangible being basic education. In the not-so-distant past, the most common forms of massage education were mentoring and apprenticeship.This is no longer the case; in fact, in many jurisdictions apprenticeship is no longer recognized as valid educational eligibility for the legal right to practice. These days, almost all prospective massage therapists go to school. Jurisdictions no longer recognize the validity of apprenticeship, primarily because the quality of instruction is so difficult to gauge.
How does one equate an apprenticeship to standardized vocational training in a school setting? Vocational schools are almost always under the oversight of a state Department of Education. However, as we all know, massage education is far from "standardized." Without going into the quantity of education required to practice -- that's a discussion for another day -- my concern in this article is the quality of education received by massage therapists entering the field today.
Formal schooling appears to have many benefits over apprenticeship. In a regulated environment, regulating entities should have an easier time verifying eligibility criteria. In an unregulated environment, prospective clients should be able to benefit from the reputation of an institution that graduates many therapists. Prospective students should be able to realize economies of scale from an institution that provides services to many students. A matriculating student should be able to benefit from feedback from multiple instructors and peers. But is formal schooling providing these benefits? If so, why do so many practicing first- and second-year therapists indicate to me that they are pretty good, "in spite of" their schooling? More important to the public, why is it that a given number of schools, all with state Department of Education oversight, will graduate just as many classes with vastly different levels of ability and/or knowledge? Has the business of massage education superceded the duty of massage education: to best prepare a student to be competitive as a practicing therapist? Lastly, why do so many recent graduates complain that they were ill prepared for how incredibly difficult it can be to establish a full-time practice that actually pays the bills?
Let me interject that I am not starting a rant on the sorry state of massage education in the U.S.! There is much superb massage schooling available to the ever-increasing numbers of potential students. What I am saying is that I believe there is much too much disparity in the levels of educational quality within any given state, and certainly among states. I see two causes of this phenomenon. First, precious few instructors of massage therapy have had any formal training in education, other than an in-house qualification program. Second, a massage school that markets effectively can succeed financially without obtaining institutional and/or programmatic accreditation.
The scarcity of experienced teachers is problematic for students and school owners alike. The inability to hire enough individuals capable of meeting appropriate guidelines forces schools to staff positions with less than desirable candidates. In my state, an instructor must possess the following qualifications to teach in a post-secondary private vocational institution:
These qualifications are very similar to those in many other states. While the situation of last year's student being this year's teacher is not as prevalent as it was several years ago, I feel certain that many of today's massage instructors have neither a teaching credential nor five years experience. It is my observation that regulators overseeing post-secondary education tend not place much emphasis on proprietary vocational schoolteacher qualifications.
The lack of ubiquitous school accreditation compounds this problem. I applaud those schoolowners who go the extra mile and spend the extra money to have their institutions and programs accredited by valid accrediting bodies. While there are many unaccredited schools providing superior education, it is my opinion that the accredited schools are those that best:
I find that ill-trained massage therapists are not just a problem to be solved by a free market economy. These therapists are a problem for your practice and my practice. Today's clients walk in the door with expectations they didn't have 10 or 15 years ago. We have made great strides in educating the public on the benefits of massage therapy. A colleague I was speaking to by telephone mentioned that potential clients have the expectation that we, as massage therapists, have viable protocols for the management of muscular dysfunction and can pull from a large tool bag of options to benefit our clients. Even clients booking appointments for the more pampering aspects of our trade frequently present with low back and/or neck issues that need to be addressed before they can relax on the table. Therapists who aren't competitive in ability and provide less- than-expected service can turn clients off massage therapy forever. On the other hand, if they lack the knowledge and ability because they were never taught properly, how much can we blame them?
Kudos to those schools who are solving these problems every day!
Massage Today encourages letters to the editor to discuss matters relating to the publication's content. Letters may be published in a future issue of Massage Today. Please send all correspondence by e-mail to , or by regular mail to the address listed below:
Former editor of Massage Today, Cliff is owner of Windham Health Center Neuromuscular Therapy LLC. He is nationally certified in therapeutic massage & bodywork and is licensed as a massage therapist by the states of New Hampshire and Florida. Cliff is a member of the International Association of Healthcare Practitioners; a professional member and past president of the New Hampshire chapter of the American Massage Therapy Association; a certified member of the Associated Bodywork & Massage Professionals, Inc.; and a past chairman of the board of directors of the National Certification Board for Therapeutic Massage & Bodywork.
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